This blog entry contains spoilers, if you’re reading the strip for the first time!
The Billy Ireland Cartoon Library & Museum is exhibiting some of Lynn’s original art, as part of their Tales from the Vault: 40 years/40 Stories show.
Death, illness, and trauma are not themes that most cartoonists choose to tackle in the “funny pages.” Lynn Johnston’s daily comic For Better Or Worse, which ran from 1979 to 2008, remains one of the few strips set in real time, meaning that the characters grow, age, and inevitably pass away. By 1995, the fictional Patterson family’s pet dog Farley had been a presence in the comic strip for much longer than an Old English Sheepdog’s typical lifespan. Over the course of a few weeks, Johnston wrote Farley’s death into the strip.
This sequence of strips, a mere handful out of the hundreds she drew in her career, garnered over 2,000 letters from fans, most of which are held at The Billy Ireland Cartoon Library & Museum. This selection reflects the spectrum of emotions triggered by the death of a fictional dog. Among this collection are sympathy cards and personal pet photographs, letters berating Johnston, and letters thanking her for her cathartic use of art to share a deep part of the human experience.
Here’s some more information about this gallery show:
March 25, 2017 – October 22, 2017
Robinson Gallery, Billy Ireland Cartoon Library & Museum
Sullivant Hall, 1813 N. High St.
Columbus OH 43210
Celebrating 40 Years at the Billy Ireland Cartoon Library & Museum
Explore 40 stories about fascinating collectors, groundbreaking comics, controversial cartoons, influential characters, innovative cartoonists, and more from 40 years of collecting at The Billy Ireland Cartoon Library & Museum. This exhibition will feature a selection of works spanning over 250 years and the tales that bring them to life. From Civil War era magic lantern slides to the underground comix women’s liberation movement, learn the stories behind the storytellers and the tales that BICLM is dedicated to preserving.
Curated by Jenny Robb and Caitlin McGurk.